Letter to the editor: Clean up fossil fuel mess

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Clean up fossil fuel mess

It's a basic understanding that every parent makes clear to their children: If you make a mess, you clean it up. As fundamental as that concept seems, it's one we have ignored when it comes to burning fossil fuels. Consequently, the health of our ecosystems, and the economic benefits we derive from them, continue to decline, while those responsible for the mess don't pay a penny for the damage they cause. Passage of a carbon pollution tax will change that by charging fuel dealers a modest, but gradually increasing fee that begins to reflect the harm their products wreak upon the environment. Of course dealers will pass the carbon pollution tax on to consumers, but by returning these funds to the public in a progressive manner that is sensitive to household income, it is the dealers -- not the public -- who will bear the tax burden. Consumers will have a new and compelling incentive to reduce fuel use. The less fossil fuel a citizen burns, the less the person pays out and the more the person will benefit financially. With ten percent of the funds raised going into a clean energy fund and used to increase efficiency and conservation, the only people who stand to lose are the oil companies who will sell fewer gallons of fuel. After decades of paying nothing for making our shared environment worse, this seems only fair. The time for a carbon-pollution tax is now.

— David Ellenbogen, political committee chair of the Vermont Sierra Club Calais.


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